Christos Tsiolkas's Style

Mark Azzopardi


This article takes up a specific feature of Christos Tsiolkas's writing, his style. Focusing on Tsiolkas's fourth novel, The Slap, this article argues that Tsiolkas’s style is an inarticulate style: a style that does not always use the right word at the right moment, that employs language for narrative utility rather than its own sake, and that sporadically departs from standard usage and correctness in ways that do not appear artistically motivated. My argument is that The Slap is notable among contemporary fiction in that what I consider to be Tsiolkas’s worst sentences are the most revealing of his inclinations as a novelist. Consequently, I depart from what has become a standard formula in Tsiolkas's reception, that where Tsiolkas succeeds as a writer he succeeds in spite of his style. Finally, this article also contributes to recent debates about the purpose and vocabulary of Australian literary discussion: how critics debate the work of a prize-winning author, how criticism and praise operate in critical judgements, and the significance of style in evaluations of literature.


Christos Tsiolkas; The Slap; style; aesthetics; literary criticism; Patrick White

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